Book Review: The Black Christ

Author: Ronald Harrison

Firstly, I’m not saying too much about this one as I feel everyone really must read it.

Ronald Harrison (born 1940) created an oil painting called The Black Christ which caused a stir at it’s unveling in 1962 in Cape Town. The painting depicts Chief Albert Luthuli as Christ and two enforcers of Apartheid, John Vorster and Hendrik Verwoerd.

Harrison was arrested, tortured, his family was threatened and he was forced to reveal the whereabouts of the painting as well as who instigated the idea of it. Friends and fellow freedom fighters of Harrison smuggled the painting out of the country to create awareness of the political situation in South Africa. It was also circulating in British museums, and the funds generated was to be sent back to South Africa to help the victims of Apartheid.

Not only does Harrison talk about his experience and the journey of his painting, he also enlightens readers about the operations of the underground groups that fought Apartheid.

The Black Christ is not an academic book. Harrison writes in a way that is very easy to understand it is someone telling story rather than just stating facts. It’s one of my best reads.

The painting is being kept at the South African National Gallery and can only be viewed upon request.

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